Author Topic: TECH: Runsheets (keeping them updated)  (Read 10077 times)

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MatthewShiner

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TECH: Runsheets (keeping them updated)
« on: Feb 26, 2005, 02:48 pm »
Okay, I am looking for some advice;  may I am getting old, and I can not for the life of me remember how else I ever did this.

Here is the current situation.  

Right now, I am working on some pretty big shows, technically very challanging.  As far as runsheets/runbook for the ASM/PA/Crew for the show, we create a document in rehearsal, and hand them out as we star tech.  

We tech during the day, and then, what has been the standard here, is the ASM collects the run sheets, and inputs/updates the run book before the next tech slot; sometimes meeting with the the run crew to go over the changes.

My problem with this is that is a such a time intensive process.  (sometimes takes 2 hours a day on a very complicated show)

How do other SMs work with their team and their crew to update runsheets throughtout tech, make sure they are updated and kept current?

Help?
« Last Edit: Jun 09, 2009, 12:05 am by PSMKay »
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nmno

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Runsheets
« Reply #1 on: Feb 26, 2005, 03:22 pm »
When I was ASMing, I started setting up a computer backstage so that I could input/update along the way.  Sometimes it doesn't always work depending on space backstage, but usually I'm able to find a little nook that can accomodate my laptop.  And lordy know that during tech there is down time backstage.  Plus I found I was able to input things while it was fresh in my mind.  
Before that I was coming in a few hours early, staying up late after or working through my dinner to get caught up.  Not an ideal situation.

MatthewShiner

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ASM and Computer Backstage
« Reply #2 on: Feb 26, 2005, 04:47 pm »
You know one of my ASM's has done that, but my gut feeling is the ASM should always be watching what is going on onstage, and be ready to jump on instantly, everytime we hold.  I think working on the computer can be distracting - and still there is additional time afterwards because there is never enough time to update during tech.

But a good idea, keep them coming.
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RuthNY

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Runsheets
« Reply #3 on: Feb 27, 2005, 01:04 am »
Does the theatre require that you hand out clean and updated running sheets to the crew at each rehearsal?  Many of the stagehands I've worked with get very attached to their highlighting and handwritten notes, and I can't pry the old sheets out of their hands until we actually stop making changes.  They don't want new sheets each day--that just means they have to mark them up all over again.

This gives the ASM a touch of flexibility.  You get the information from the crew, either in a meeting following the rehearsal, or actually during the rehearsal if there is time to talk.  The other way is to collect the sheets, photocopy them, give each person back their own sheets and do the clean update without such time pressure. (As the ASM, of course, whether there are updated sheets or not, you must have notated each crew member's current track for your own reference.)

If you must update, publish, and distribute at the next call, and you really have 2 hours of work, do an hour after rehearsal and an hour prior to the next call.  'Cause if that's theatre policy (and I just can't quite picture that,) that's why we AEA SM's get paid the bump-up in a LORT Tech. Week!  No counting SM hours in Tech Week.  (No comfort there, just the facts.)  Or perhaps you can split the job to update SR and SL on alternating days or split the work with a knowledgeable PA.  Creative solutions like that can help too.

I'd like to know more about your theatre's policies or "traditions."  Sometimes they are worth changing!

Good Luck,
RuthNY
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Running Sheet Changes
« Reply #4 on: Feb 27, 2005, 10:23 am »
I have always met with the Crew Chief or Department Head before the tech rehearsal begins and simply ask how they would like to handle the onslaught of upcoming notes and changes. That way, I learn new ways of operating and everyone on the show feels respected and an integral part of the Team.
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MatthewShiner

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Thanks
« Reply #5 on: Feb 27, 2005, 10:40 am »
Yeah, these are all good ideas.

I think I am just batteling the "we have always done it this way" mentality at the theatre - and I am not sure it is the best idea.

I think we will just issue one set of run sheets for the show - get through it once and then update.

That should at least get us through the 10 out of 12's relatively sane.  (Although I think the ASM may go ahead and update HER run sheets with general notes - waiting to fill in specifics later.)

Thanks for the input.
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loebtmc

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Runsheets
« Reply #6 on: Feb 27, 2005, 12:38 pm »
And in some spaces I have been able to hand out an initial run sheet w lots of blank space and say "hey, make me a copy of what the last version of this is for the archives"

Most of the time my ASM and crew get used to their own crib notes and prefer them - I track changes for myself, on my own, as well, but new sparkiling clean copies can usually wait til after opening (if at all), unless there is something so huge and different we can no longer read - or there's no more room for - our handwritten scribbles.

juliz1106

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Runsheets
« Reply #7 on: Mar 09, 2005, 04:16 pm »
I agree with the general consesnsus about not updating quite so much.  The last time I was in this situation I was working as the Floor Manager (glorified PA, let's say), and I found the constant run sheet changes annoying, as did the rest of the crew.  Obviously, changes were made, notated individually, and given to the ASM, but most of the time the crew just threw away her work, and stuck to their own notes.  Which makes all that work just a waste of the ASM's time.

Besides, in terms of keeping the paperwork up-to-date, the only time things really stop changing is after opening. And that that theatre, the policy was to have updated run sheets complete by Opening Night, so it made more sense to hold onto our hand-written changes and have the ASM take care of ultimately updating it on or just after Opening.

hbelden

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what about in the commercial environment?
« Reply #8 on: Mar 11, 2005, 07:54 pm »
I agree with holding off on updating the archive version of the run book until Opening Night, especially in a LORT environment (i.e., limited run, consistent backstage staff).  I wonder how this would transfer to Broadway, though (never having worked on a commerical or open-ended run myself) as I suspect that you'd have to have a lot more uniformity on something the size of Lion King or Phantom.  Would a show like that demand more control and therefore more updating?

I tend to believe that the person doing the work should describe how the work is to be done.  When I hand out cue sheets, it's really just the name of the cue (however I or the designer have decided to call it) and a description of what the effect is.  Then, I want to get copies of the finished run sheets from each techie and (if I'm not totally burned out by then) making publishable archive "clean" transcripts of those sheets.  I've also been working without benefit of an ASM for the last year, so the time burden is something I'm very aware of.
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linka

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Runsheets
« Reply #9 on: Mar 12, 2005, 06:20 pm »
as the ASM, I have often found it exhausting to have to update run sheets nights, print and xerox them, and get them to the theatre for the crew to review on a daily basis. So I usually do updates when there are major changes... so usually after the first tech, in time for the first runthru, then a clean copy the day before opening. Any notes are handwritten after that. I usually collect the sheets on a nightly basis during tech to find out if there are any discrepencies in the handwritten notes so that the next day, we're all on the same page. At the end of the run, I usually take everyone's handwritten notes then make a clean copy for the production book.

This last show that I stage managed, the ASM wanted to have new run sheets daily which really frustrated the crew because they never felt they had "gotten the chance to learn" their stuff before it was reassigned.... even though about 1/2 of it was just the typing in their notes to the sheet. The union guys were especially irritated because they felt that it was a lot of miscellaneous words on the page and wanted to stop using them after the 3rd version (we went up to 6) but I wouldn't let them.

Checking in with the crew to find out the needs is always good.

FallenRain

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Re: Run Sheets
« Reply #10 on: Mar 12, 2005, 11:32 pm »
As ASM, I don't usually bother updating sheets until we tech thru the show at least once... which never happens earlier than the 2nd day of tech.  Personally, I hate giving out new paperwork before a performance without having the benefit of a run thru (ideal) or a chunk of rehearsal time for the crew to really look it over well.  I don't want to find that I've *gasp* made an error in translating the handwriting of a crew member which has caused a shift confusion DURING the show in front of an audience.  I usually hand back the previous version (with crew members notes) with the updated version just in case they need to refer back to something they wrote that didn't get translated correctly.

In my experience, I find that updated run sheets aren't really used by crew for small to minor changes.  Even though I'll bust my butt to get them done, in reality, my crew members don't refer to them.  What I think is most important about run sheets is that even if you assume that all of your crew members know exactly what they're doing with their older, scribbled on run sheets, part of your job is to make sure that everyone on your team (including yourself) is easily replaced.  So while Joe on the fly rail is perfectly competent and fine with all of his fly cues, his hand written crib sheet might not be the best thing to give to Betty when Joe breaks his arm and needs to be replaced at half hour.  I say let the crew use what works for them, and works for the show... but you need to be prepared with all the information of everyone's tracks - in a nice, easy to understand format - not only for archival purposes, but for emergency purposes as well.

Speaking of formats... I'd love to see some more examples of run sheets on the site.  I'm really not in love with mine and I'm looking for something a little easier to understand for someone not familiar with my show.  Whatcha guys got, hm?  :D

isha

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« Reply #11 on: Mar 23, 2005, 02:01 pm »
ummm... I feel really silly, but what do you guys mean by run sheets? What is the exact purpose of them?what exactly do you want on them?
~isha

FallenRain

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« Reply #12 on: Mar 23, 2005, 08:59 pm »
Quote from: "isha"
ummm... I feel really silly, but what do you guys mean by run sheets? What is the exact purpose of them?what exactly do you want on them?


A run sheet is a piece of important paperwork generated by the Assistant Stage Manager that details all the specifics of running the show from the deck.  While formats and styles vary from person to person, the basic information you want in this paperwork includes your larger transitional shifts (what needs to happen to go from the garden scene to the living room scene) as well as your internal shifts (hand off a prop stage left, or make the bed and close the curtains when the bed chamber comes off stage right).  This paper should detail who is doing what, when they are doing it, where they are doing it and how.  

You may want to take a look at a book on stage management to give you a better idea of the general scope of the job - you can also find examples of all the paperwork our position is required to generate.  Lawrence Stern wrote an excellent book that many of the posters here recommend.

Good luck!   :)

centaura

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paperwork grows
« Reply #13 on: Mar 24, 2005, 02:12 am »
Quote
ummm... I feel really silly, but what do you guys mean by run sheets? What is the exact purpose of them?what exactly do you want on them?


Heh, the only silly question is the one that you don't ask!   :wink:

Seriously, the best way to find out information is to ask a question.  You might think of a run sheet as a scene shift list, or something similar.  The reason its called a run sheet is becuase it often has more on in than just the scene shifts, pretty much anything that needs to happen backstage for the show.  

The biggest thing you learn as you progress though life as a stage manager, is that the bigger the theatre, or 'higher' the position, the more paperwork you'll generate.  There are books dedicated to all the different forms, list, etc. that a stage manager might be called upon to make/use/etc.  A lot of it will vary by theatre policy and the needs of the show.

For example, I am currently working on a non-union tour.  That almost automatically sets me at a lower level of amount of paperwork I create than someone who was, say, working a union tour.  For this particular show, we have a box set, no scene changes, and the actors get the few offstage props they need from a prop table.  So, a run sheet was not something that we needed to stress over, as there was very little to keep track of.  Conversely, two years ago, the show was all these wagons that kept coming off and on, that we had to keep good track of who did what when, and we had run sheets tacked to the back of almost everything to help the actors keep things straight until they had learned it all.

-Centaura

isha

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« Reply #14 on: Mar 24, 2005, 09:36 pm »
thanks guys! That makes a lot of sense.
I guess we haven't really bothered with anything like that here because the actors do all the set changes..(unprofessional and slow, I know..but there is no way we can fit anyone else besides the actors backstage, and at my school the only people interested in tech are the few of us that do lighting, sound and SM.)
I think I'll try using a run sheet next year, even if it's actors using it. Maybe I can post one backstage and it'll make scene changes faster and smoother. hmmm...*goes off to contemplate new knowledge*
~isha

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